Alongside the Year for Consecrated Life called for by Pope Francis, the Diocese of Shrewsbury, England, is observing 2015 as a year for vocations, promoting among the faithful the universal call to sanctity. “I want to speak about the calling which we all share,” Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said in a pastoral letter read Nov. 30 at churches and chapels throughout the diocese. “It might startle you to be reminded that this is quite simply the vocation to become a saint!” “The Apostles had no hesitation in addressing the first Christians as 'saints', and yet we can lose sight of this, our greatest calling. The Church’s teaching, her discipline and all the Sacraments are given us so that you and I may become saints.” A statement from the diocese noted that Shrewsbury's Year for Vocations “complements the 'Year of Consecrated Life' opened by Pope Francis but it is also aimed at encouraging lay Catholics to better understand their own vocations, especially the vocation to marriage.” Bishop Davies' letter opened by noting that the Shrewsbury diocese “stands in great need” of vocations to Christian marriage, the ministerial priesthood, and consecrated life. Remarking on the Year for Consecrated Life, the bishop said that “the Holy Father has also placed the vocation of Marriage at the heart of his concerns, inviting us to reflect on the great vocation of the family in preparation for the Synod of Bishops next October.” The Shrewsbury diocese is itself opening a center at its cathedral where men can stay for a year as they discern a vocation to priesthood or consecrated life. In light of these things, Bishop Davies wrote, “it seems clear to me … the theme for 2015 must be a ‘Year for Vocations.’” The vocation to holiness is for all Christians, he stated, emphasizing that holiness, not comfort or popularity, is “the goal of the Christian life.” “This call to holiness lay at the heart of the Second Vatican Council’s call for renewal in the Church. Blessed Pope Paul VI described the call to holiness as the key to understanding the whole purpose of the Council.” Bishop Davies assured his people that “in the Church, no one has a second-class vocation. Every one of us is, by Baptism, called to become nothing less than a saint.” He quoted from Pope Francis' Nov. 19 General Audience, in which the Pope said that holiness “is not the prerogative of some” but is rather “a gift offered to all.” Bishop Davies wrote, “If you are ever tempted to think holiness means detaching yourselves from ordinary things, then Pope Francis asks you to think again!” “The Pope wants to remind us that at home or in work or at church; in marriage or in the priesthood; in every moment and in every state of life, 'a door is opened on the road to sainthood.'” “Our path to holiness is to be found, then, amidst the apparently little things of every day,” the bishop said, adding that Pope Francis gives practical examples such as avoiding gossip and listening patiently to your children after a hard day's work. “Being ready for Mass on Sunday, and at times making a good Confession, which Pope Francis says, 'cleans us up,' are vital steps towards holiness.” Meeting those in need, and making the time to help them, too, are “real steps towards becoming the saints we are called to be.” “In other words, the call to holiness is not found up in the clouds or in our dreams,” Bishop Davies concluded. “The call to become a saint is right in front of us every day!” “May Mary, who in Pope Francis’ words is 'so good, so beautiful,' help us recognise how, in these apparently small things of each day, lies our path to holiness, to our complete and everlasting happiness.”
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